Wednesday July 06, 2022

The conspiracy rhetoric

April 05, 2022

Prime Minister Imran Khan has claimed that an international conspiracy has been hatched against his government by the US in order to oust him from power.

According to Mr Khan, the no-confidence motion filed by the joint opposition is part of the conspiracy. Mr Khan further adds that this conspiracy was revealed to him in the form of a letter. The reason apparently is that he adopted an independent foreign policy and categorically said ‘absolutely not’ on the question of handing over air bases to the US. Hence, the US has launched a conspiracy against him to remove him from power as an independent and strong leader is not acceptable to the US.

If one dissects the facts, the reality appears far from what is being claimed. Regarding the alleged refusal to hand over air bases to the US, it was an answer to a question put forward by a journalist during an interview with the premier. No official request had been put forward from any US government official to the Pakistani government. This fact was further reiterated by (foemr) National Security Advisor Dr Moeed Yusuf that no official request had been made by the US government. Therefore, the ‘absolutely not’ answer cannot be counted as a refusal to a demand from the US. Aligning it with the notion of an independent foreign policy is a false analogy. That interview of Mr Khan was perhaps the only instance where he had shown a slight hint of an independent foreign policy, and that too was overly exaggerated by the government and sycophantic PTI supporters.

The condition of a recent loan issued by the Saudi government to Pakistan states that the loan can be reclaimed any time by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan will have to return it in 72 hours. This clearly doesn’t show a strong position of Pakistan. As far as the US is concerned, President Biden hasn’t made a phone call to Mr Khan ever since the former came to power in January last year.

An independent foreign policy can never be achieved without achieving economic sovereignty. Pakistan’s economy under the PTI government reveals an abysmal situation. Unemployment and inflation are at record-high levels and indirect regressive taxes imposed under the directives of the IMF have inflicted further miseries on the poor. The combined debt acquired under the PTI government is higher than the debt accumulated between 1947 and 2018. So much for independence, the State Bank has literally been put under the IMF, according to the State Bank Amendment Bill 2021, which forbids the State Bank from issuing loans to the government. With such an economic situation, pursuing an independent foreign policy becomes a futile exercise.

It appears Mr Khan is using the anti-US rhetoric to build a narrative for PTI supporters for the next elections. Anti-US sentiments have been high in Pakistan ever since the beginning of the ‘war on terror’. Perhaps Mr Khan wants to exploit these sentiments by claiming in front of his supporters that he was ousted through an international conspiracy, as he was becoming too strong and independent for the US. Such a strategy might invoke sympathy among his supporters.

The writer is currently working towards a PhD in economics. He tweets @dhasan151


    Mahnaz Qaiser commented 3 months ago

    Is the writer naive enough to think that had the US actually sent any such letter, it would be publically admitted? His belief in the goodness of human nature and US policies are admirable.

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